March 30th, 2018


                  Our last Scripture reading (Mark 3:28-29) is one that is confusing to many people.  It speaks of one sin that is considered ‘unpardonable’.  In other words, every sin that a person commits is capable of being forgiven by God, even the sin of nailing the Son of God to the cross, every sin…  except one.  1 John 5:16 is similar, and also somewhat puzzling: “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death…”.  But doesn’t Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death”?  And doesn’t that include all sin, big or little by human standards?  Each of us is guilty before a holy God, each of us has sinned, just as the Bible says, "There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). 

          And indeed, no one is righteous in and of themselves.  We cannot earn God’s forgiveness.  We cannot earn entry into heaven.  We should forgive each other because each of us is guilty of sin.  In fact, we are commanded by God to forgive one another.  We even pray in the prayer that our Lord Jesus taught us to pray, “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12).  As we forgive…  So if we don’t forgive, we are actually asking God NOT to forgive us every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer!  And if you think we shouldn’t have to forgive those who commit sins we judge as being worse than our own, remember that Romans 2:1-4 says “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?  Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”

          But you say, I would never betray Jesus as Judas did.  I would never deny him like Peter did.  And I would certainly never nail him to the cross like the Roman soldiers did.  And yet, every time we let our personal greed and selfishness get the better of us, we betray Christ for money.  And every time we let our flesh, instead of our spirit, dictate our words and actions, we deny Christ.  And it is indeed every one of our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross, even if we did not physically drive the spikes into his wrist.  So when Jesus asked His father to forgive them, He was also asking His Father to forgive you.

          But pastor, you still have not explained what the unpardonable sin is!  What is the one sin that leads to eternal death?  The one sin that even God will not forgive?  What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?  In the context in which it was spoken by our Lord, it was because the religious leaders were accusing Him of casting out demons through the power of Satan, not the power of God.  The word blaspheme means “the crime of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God” (Merriam-Webster).  So to blaspheme the Holy Spirit means to insult, show contempt, or lack of reverence for Him.  And what did the Holy Spirit write?  The Holy Scriptures!  (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21).  If you do not believe the Bible, you are blaspheming the Holy Spirit.  And it is the Holy Spirit that calls you to faith, that pleads with your heart to repent and come to Jesus.  If you reject God’s Word, and you reject the Holy Spirit’s call to repentance from sin and dead works, and His call to put your faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone for salvation, you commit the unpardonable sin.  The only sin God the Father will not, indeed cannot, forgive is the rejection of the gift of salvation through His Son. 

          Only a few days before he was crucified, Jesus told this parable, “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.  Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’  So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 

What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.  When the people heard this, they said, ‘God forbid!’  Jesus looked directly at them and asked, then what is the meaning of that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.’  The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.”  (Luke 20:9-19).  How ironic that they were afraid of the people, but did not fear the God they professed to worship.

          So has your human pride been broken?  Have you repented of your sins and turned to Christ for salvation?  Or will the cornerstone, on which your salvation rests, ultimately crush you? 

          The Lord will forgive ignorance, He will forgive our failures, and He will forgive our sins no matter how great.  But if you reject His salvation, the salvation that is offered to you through Jesus Christ, who was crucified as the final and ultimate sacrifice for your sins, then you have no hope of eternal life.  Hebrews 10:26-31, 37-39 makes it quite plain, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God…  For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’  And, ‘But the righteous will live by faith’.  And ‘I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’  But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” 

          This evening it is indeed my prayer that each and every one of you also have faith and are saved.  Amen.

           Link to our closing video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2gHCleHg48